- Due Fri 7/24, 7p
Using Detailed Storytelling to Persuade
For this assignment, I want you to focus on developing a story for your revised Essay 1 that will SHOW your readers the DETAILS of what is at stake in your topic: racism & police brutality. Telling a detailed story can be one of the most powerful—and powerfully convincing—strategies for convincing a reader to believe in your thesis. So this is what I want you to get practice doing for Friday.
First, for inspiration, I want you to (re-)read the opening sections of Larry Elder’s “Where’s Black Lives Matter When You Need Them?” and James Baldwin’s “A Report from Occupied Territory.” Both of these texts begin with powerfully detailed stories that show us horrific acts of police brutality which draw us into the topic the writer wants us to think about. However, you will notice that there are some key differences in the way each of these stories is worded and angled. As discussed in today’s Zoom, Elder writes his story in a way that suggests subtly that what Officer Chauvin did to George Floyd wasn’t murder. Meanwhile, Baldwin, in his story, plays up the violence that the black salesman experiences and witness while in police custody—violence which leads to his being partially blinded. I point this out because while both of these stories draw us in to the topic of police brutality, they do so with different purposes in mind: Elder wants to convince us that police brutality towards black people is not as much of an issue as black-on-black violence; on the other hand, Baldwin wants to say that the policing of black neighborhoods like Harlem is tantamount to a military occupation of an otherwise autonomous “territory” or community. Unlike Elder, he is not at all sympathetic to the cops…
Anyway, for this assignment I want you to respond below with two things:
A) A paragraph-long summary of the story Baldwin tells of the salesman’s experience with the police, and
B) A 1-2 paragraph story you will tell in your Essay 1 to try to convince your reader to believe in your own thesis about police brutality in the US. The story you tell can be from your own experience (something that happened to you or someone you are close to), something that you heard about happening to someone you know, a story you saw/heard about online, on social media, in a movie, etc. Please just make sure you make it as detailed as possible. Details to include (not necessarily in this order):
–Who are the key characters involved? What do they look like…sound like…smell like…etc.? (You can make up details as needed, so long as you remain true enough to the spirit of the story.)
–Where are these characters in space? Where do the key events of this story take place? When do the events in this story take place (in history/time)?
–What are they (the main characters) doing? What happens to them? Which key events need to be described in order for the reader to understand what is going on and why it matters?
PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND TO THESE QUESTIONS IN ORDER. INSTEAD, WRITE YOUR STORY AS 1-3 PARAGRAPHS, THEN RE-READ THESE QUESTIONS AND RE-READ/RE-WRITE YOUR STORY, MAKING SURE YOU’VE ADDRESSED ALL OF THESE QUESTIONS SOMEWHERE.